Some people have got it down to about 3USD per day. The cheapest fully complete one from diy.soylent.me is $2.22 per day. It is quite possible that economies of scale could drive this down further, but it will take a while if it happens at all.
Thanks for referencing that recipe. Quite interesting. However, I think it’s worth mentioning that the cost is for a 1500 calorie baseline. In comparing costs, I feel we should use a common nutrient profile (maybe Rob’s newest recommendation so we can compare with the Soylent marketed cost?)
In particular, that cost is for British pounds. Also, if you use Rob’s Recommendation, and up the protein (pea powder) and carbs (through maltodextrin) to match, it comes out to about £3.50. Omega-3 is at 1700% so maybe worriesome?
Definitely one of the cheapest I’ve seen for UK (most recipes with similar completions are £4.50-£5.50), but my point is that once you do the conversion, and get it up to a comparable nutrient level, it still comes out to about $5.60 USD.
Ah, very true - people vary in calorie requirements, and I’d kind of forgotten that.
(I only listed that recipe as a quick example of how cheap it could currently get - I didn’t actually read it through properly. I should have said that.) OK, it’s still a lot more expensive than a dollar a day.
When I look at a recipe, the first thing I do is look at the protein; afterwards, I look at the fibre. I think these are generally the two big bottlenecks of any recipe.
It seems to be very hard to get 100g of protein with less than $1/day. Unless I’m mistaken, protein powder is one of the more cost efficient sources of protein (unless you want to blend eggs or tuna), and you can’t use peanuts in mass quantities. Assuming 82% protein content, a 5kg bag in the UK costs £46.89, which works out to about 1.1p per gram of protein, or £1.10 for 100g. My calculation for American prices is similar. With 75% protein content of Optimum Nutrition Protein 5lbs for $55, this comes out to about $0.18/g or $1.80/100g.
Unless you plan to obtain wholesale prices (and I debate exactly how much cheaper you can obtain protein powder for) I think that £1.10 or $1.80 is almost what you can expect as the bottom line if you need 100g/protein. Add the rest of the nutrients on top of this, and this is why I’m skeptical of any UK DIY formula being under £2 or perhaps even £3.
Looking at quoted figures, it looks like the released Soylent will be about $255/month, which is about $8.50/day. The Hacker School recipe, which is pretty darn minimal, and takes advantage of Trader Joe Soy protein costs about $5/day, but is a little incomplete. So no, I don’t think Soylent will ever cost $1/day, whether you purchase it officially or whether you create it yourself.
My guess is that what the DIY community has been able to achieve (£3.50-5.50/day costs) for a more-or-less complete recipe, is not going to be completely dissimilar from the official product. This seems to be the lower bound range for complete formulas. While they save on purchasing in bulk, they also need to pay employees, shipping, packaging, and marketing. I can imagine the monthly price going down to $200 or even $150 (what Rhinehart was paying for his own creations), but certainly not $30.
It’s doable. Taste is another matter entirely - but the potential is there. From my research, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s possible to hit 40 cents per day for complete nutrition for the raw materials. Labor, overhead, etc, will add to the cost. Flavoring, texture, etc as well.
What did you find in your research wrt the cost of protein, as @ThSGM mentioned? In every iteration of every recipe I’ve done, the protein has been the most expensive part by far, and right now sits at 25% of my costs, and that’s with a crazy good deal/sale.
Perhaps someday it could. It would just require a cheaper method of manufacturing protein.
I’m also interested in his reply. I don’t see how you can possibly get 100g of protein within a complete recipe for 40 cents/day—if this was obvious to me, it’d already be obvious to, for example, the bodybuilding community.
In the recipe he quoted, he’s using 130g of soy flour/day to obtain 60g of protein, which costs $0.31/day (though bought in a 22lbs bag and bulk in the US). I’m somewhat concerned about using so much raw soy flour, particularly in light of (controversial) health risks (see here for instance)
Though raw soy flour is known to cause pancreatic cancer in rats the cooked flour has not been found carcinogenic. Whether soy might promote pancreatic cancer in humans is unknown because studies have not yet attempted to single out soy intake and the incidence of pancreatic cancer in humans, and the amount of soy fed to the rats is proportionately far larger than what humans would normally consume. However, the soy isoflavone genistein has been suggested as a chemopreventive agent against pancreatic cancer, by interfering with the chemical pathways that promote the creation and growth of tumors.
But as you asked, my first question is how are you making a recipe for $0.40/day with 100g of protein (or even 80g of protein). My protein cost is £0.94/day bought in bulk for whey protein powder. This is about 27% of the total cost of my recipe. If a recipe costs $0.40/day, and protein is roughly the same proportion, that means you’re able to obtain 80-100g of protein on 10 cents! That’s the cheapest source of protein I’ve ever heard of! Incredible!
But then again, I have reservations about these receipes. There was someone on Reddit who was promoting an ultra cheap recipe which involved something like 200g of raw white flour consumption per day, which is utterly ridiculous. Upon being asked “What is the safety of eating so much raw white flour?”, he responded by saying that he wasn’t surre. o.O.
I made the 40 cent guesstimate after reaching $1.05 with non-mass produced ingredients. I used wheat protein in conjunction with soy flour, which presents the issue of missing amino acids - which I’ll be tweaking until it’s complete, unless the soy flour proves sufficient.
With something that’s properly mass produced, removing the middle man as much as possible, I think 40 cents is doable. Right now the ingredients are being sourced from specialized producers, in amounts geared toward small businesses or individual consumers. If the raw ingredients were processed in a vertically integrated facility, you’d be able to cut costs significantly (purchasing soybeans, nutrients, wheat in bulk.)
I have a suspicion that you could get significant savings from yeast protein in bioreactors, as well.
As to eating it raw, I have some ideas on that. Even though not cooking is part of (diy)soylent’s appeal, I’d rather have palatable and safe food than risk anything else. I have some ideas for cooking the recipe in different ways
http://diy.soylent.me/recipes/cheap-complete-2 - I get ~58g of soy protein and 30g of wheat protein, which may or may not be complete, for 48 cents, on an individual/small business scale. For 1 ton of wheat, it currently costs $280. For 1 ton of soybeans, $520.
13.7g per 100g of whole wheat grain is protein, so you’d net 124 kg of protein for that $280, or around $.00226
16.63g per 100g of whole soybeans is protein so you’d get 150 kg of soy protein, at $.0035 per gram.
If you’re looking at just protein, then you get 100 grams of complete protein for 35 cents with the soy. A percentage of that can be replaced with the wheat protein while maintaining an overall complete profile. That puts the cost at roughly 30 cents for the protein. The remaining starches and fats from the already sunk $800 of raw material provide a significant portion of the carb and oil requirements.
With bulk canola oil, you’re looking at about $800 for 1000L, $0.0008/ml , ending up at about 5 cents for the canola oil content.
The remaining micronutrients would end up being around 4-5 cents. 40 cents is definitely possible in a mass-production enterprise. Packaging, cooking, shipping add 20 cents to the cost, and that leaves 40 cents for profit for $1/day complete nutrition.
Putting aside my worries about the ingredients (which you haven’t addressed—in particular, I’m worried about ingesting such large quantities of soy and wheat), and perhaps we just focus on the theoretical costs and forget about the actual health properties (which are beyond me at the moment)…
If there is one thing your computations have shown me, it’s that it may be good to incorporate soy flour into my current Soylent, just on account of the costs.
It would be helpful to get an idea of the costs with more traditional components. So for example, what is your estimate (still purchasing in 1 ton quantities if you like) for replacing the soy with whey? This would give us an idea of the variance in your costs.
In terms of the overall nutritional value, I’m aiming for 100% of the RDA for a 2000 calorie diet. Right now there are various overages, all well under the upper limits, but I don’t like having extras in there that don’t serve a purpose. The biggest culprit is the multivitamin. By removing that and supplementing the micros individually, with precision, most of the overages disappear.
I’m looking at different ways of cooking the ingredients - one thought is a bread form, or maybe pressed into bars and cooked for enough time to kill bacteria. I’m not including any flavoring agents yet, either, which will definitely affect the cost.
I’m not convinced there’s any worry for normal folks over ingesting soy and wheat - less than 1% of the population have gluten sensitivity, up to and including Coeliac disease, and soy doesn’t seem to pose any problems for any of the vast Asian populations that ingest 60-140g per day of soy based proteins. Some of their sub-populations are among the healthiest and longest lived.
I’ve yet to see anything aside from limited animal studies that suggest any problems with soy, and those studies tend to be less than insightful - mice foetal development is all well and good, but there’s virtually no basis for correlation with human nutrition. However… it bears looking into. There may be unknown interactions with other foods that change the effects of the phytochemicals in soy that could make it chronically unhealthy.